Cholendra Shumsher Rana picked to head Supreme Court

Poised to serve full four years, first since 1995

The Constitutional Council has recommended Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana for the post of chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The Judicial Council had recommended the names of senior most Justices Deepak Raj Joshee and Justice Rana to the CC for the top job at the judiciary. Since Joshee was rejected by the Parliamentary Hearing Committee (PHC) earlier, the CC had an easy job picking Rana to head the top court.

Once the parliamentary panel endorses his name, Rana will be appointed for a full four-year term, first since Bishwo Nath Upadhyaya in 1995.

Rana, who celebrated his 61st birthday on Thursday, was appointed a justice to the apex court on May 27, 2014 by then Nepali Congress-led government despite objections from the opposition—CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre), the forces that have now merged to form the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

He got around a year in bonus due to the House panel’s decision to reject Joshee as the top judge. Incumbent CJ Om Prakash Mishra retires on January 1.

Former justices and legal experts say Rana has a tough task of cleaning up the judiciary that has been grappling with controversies one after another. Since he has full four years, Rana could do a lot to improve the “tarnished” image of the judiciary but he needs will for that.

Given Rana’s questionable track record as shown by his controversial rulings, however, they worry about the independence of the judiciary.

“Corruption in judiciary is an open secret. If ethical, competent and non-controversial justices reach the helm, everything will be corrected automatically,” said former justice Balaram KC, advising the incoming CJ to curb corruption and bench shopping.

Constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari said the apex court’s reputation has taken a beating due to a series of controversial decisions. “Unpredictable decisions on larger issues related to revenue, tax and those having strong criminal liabilities as well as delayed verdicts have cost the reputation of the top court,” said Adhikari. “Rana’s success depends on how he tackles these issues.”

Constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari said the apex court’s reputation has taken a beating due to a series of controversial decisions.

“Unpredictable decisions on larger issues related to revenue, tax and those having strong criminal liabilities as well as delayed verdicts have cost the reputation of the top court,” said Adhikari. “Rana’s success depends on how he tackles these issues.”

KC suggested that correction should begin right from the Judicial Council that recommends the names of justices as well as action against tainted judges.

Published: 14-12-2018 07:43